GMO Inside Blog

Does this look like ‘humanely raised’ to you? Take Action Now!

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Do you look for meat, and poultry products that are produced humanely?  Unfortunately, foods labeled as “humanely raised” may come from factory farms with terrible conditions for animals.

The Food Safety and Inspections Service (FSIS) is charged with ensuring “the labeling of meat and poultry products is truthful and not misleading.” Animal welfare and environmental stewardship claims are supposed to be verified by FSIS before they show up in grocery stores, but this isn’t always the case. 

In 2014, the Animal Welfare Initiative reported that FSIS was approving animal welfare labels without any sort of supporting evidence. As a result, FSIS is proposing changes to the guidelines for on-package labeling of meat and poultry products. But, these guidelines fail to address the heart of the issue – animal welfare labels can be highly deceptive.

Take action to end deceptive and inaccurate animal welfare labels. (see sample comment text below)

FSIS has yet to set a regulatory definition for claims regarding animal welfare. Claims such as humanely raised have no official definition and go unregulated. This allows companies and producers to set their own standards for animal welfare without any sort of inspection to verify the claims. In fact, under the proposed guidelines it is possible for a product labeled “humane” to have come from an animal raised on a factory farm!

Tell FSIS to develop meaningful and trustworthy standards for animal welfare claims. (see sample comment text below)

Just last year, Perdue, a large producer of poultry, and Kroger, the country’s largest supermarket chain, were sued for misleading consumers by labeling products as “humanely raised” when the products actually came from industrialized factory farms with poor conditions, including the shackling of live birds and inhumane slaughter practices.

FSIS isn’t just responsible for animal welfare claims; it’s the agency in charge of monitoring claims such as humanely raised, free-range, raised without antibiotics, grass-fed, and many more. It’s time to put a stop to deception in our grocery store aisles! 

The US government must take real action to ensure that animal products labeled as “humane” have not come from factory farms! (see sample comment text below)

Follow the links to submit a comment to FSIS regarding the proposed guidelines for on-package labeling claims. Not sure what to say? Use the sample comment text bellow.

Want to know more about the proposed guidelines? Learn more >>

Sample Comment:

I, like many consumers, rely on on-package labels to inform my purchasing practices. When I purchase a package with the claim “humanely raised” I assume that there is value and meaning behind that claim and that is backed by a regulatory agency.

Imagine my surprise to find out that the new rules proposed by the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), would allowmeat and chicken producers to use slogans like “Raised With Care” or “Humanely Raised” simply by making up whatever standards they want and submitting their own definitions to FSIS, and these companies will maintain the right to use those labels through self-regulation. Companies will still be allowed to set their own definition for animal welfare and the only verification their labels will receive is a few signed pieces of paper. A written and signed document simply isn’t enough to validate industry claims of animal welfare and environmental stewardship. We have already seen companies falsify these claims for their own economic benefit.

In fact, in a statement to the Huffington Post, the FSIS acknowledged that under its new proposed rule, products could be labeled “Humane” even if animals were raised on standard factory farms, where animals are commonly subjected to prolonged extreme confinement and horrific body mutilations including unanesthetized castration, debeaking, and dehorning.

Time and time again industry has shown us that it is not capable of self-regulating/policing itself. Companies are taking advantage of consumers, and grossly overcharging them, by using animal welfare and environmental stewardship labels to bring in more profits all the while failing to change their practices and address major issues in the supply chain. Consumers should be able to purchase products that are in line with their values and concerns for the well-being of animals and the environment and be assured that those purchases live up to genuine standards regarding animal welfare.

FSIS is supposed to ensure transparency and ensure that meat and poultry labeling is “truthful and not misleading.” The proposed guidelines fail to ensure the integrity of on-package labels. In fact, they simple perpetuate business as usual allowing corporate control of our food system and failing to hold companies accountable for the baseless claims and misleading consumers.

FSIS owes it to the American public to set a clear legal definition for “humanely raised,” take steps to ensure that this label means producers verify their compliance with specific requirements, andensure that inspections are done periodically to ensure that these procedures continue to be followed.

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